“Vinny” is a local Dorset term related to the obsolete word “vinew”, which means to become mouldy. Another explanation has it that “vinny” is a corruption of “veiny”, referring to the blue veins running throughout the cheese.
Historically the cheese was merely a by-product of the much more lucrative butter market. Milk was of little value before the railways arrived, as it could not be brought to market before it went off, thus cheese and butter production was the main focus of dairy farms. Dorset butter was highly regarded in London where it fetched a premium price but making butter left the farmers with large quantities of skimmed milk which they turned into a hard, crumbly cheese.
Whilst the cheese was commonplace in Dorset, with most farms making it for many years, it almost fell into obscurity with the outbreak of the Second World War. It was only in the early 1980s that it began to make a comeback. It reemerged at Woodbridge Farm, near Sturminster Newton, by Mike Davies and his family where they use the skimmed milk from their 250 Friesian cows.
Each morning the milk is collected and pasteurised before it is hand skimmed. Then starter culture, vegetarian rennet and penicillium Roqueforti is added. Once the milk coagulates it is left overnight to allow the curds and whey to form. It is then milled and put into cylindrical moulds to allow the moisture to escape before each cheese is put into the maturing rooms for anything up to 5 months. Each cheese is turned daily and injected with hollow needles to allow air into the cheese which will, in turn, react with the penicillium Roqueforti to produce its distinctive veining
Dorset Blue Vinny has a rich and deep long-lasting taste that can be slightly salty depending on the maturity of the cheese. It is wonderful when used to make a traditional Dorset Blue soup combined with leeks and potatoes.